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Arts & Music Program Amplifies Local Youth

In Culture, Music
GET AMPED: The Art & Music Program is aimed at giving underserved youth a chance to express their creativity.

GET AMPED: The Art & Music Program is aimed at giving underserved youth a chance to express their creativity.

A new program intended to aid South Bay youth in creative endeavors kicks off Labor Day weekend in San Jose. A.M.P. (or, Arts & Music Program) offers free art and music workshops for anyone ages 13-21. Hosted by the Roberto Cruz Leadership Academy on Story Road, the program has been organized by one of San Jose’s most active grassroots groups: Think & Die Thinking.

“The aim of A.M.P. is to provide free art services and materials to youth, specifically youth of color, queer youth and youth from low-income backgrounds,” says program director Bean Tupou, a local musician and organizer with Think & Die Thinking. The program will give artistically inclined youth an opportunity to try new forms of expression, hone existing skills and learn from the community.

“We want to put all these tools, resources and ideas that youth might not have access to at home or in school in one place, so that they have a chance to experiment and figure out what they’re good at, what they’re drawn to, what they want to learn more about,” says co-organizer Jenna Marx, another local musician and a regular volunteer with the Bay Area Girls Rock Camp.

The volunteer-run program will be a mixture of scheduled classes and social opportunity, creating an environment that is flexible enough for participants to follow what inspires them, while learning from a large amount of the South Bay’s artistic community. Possible subjects include instrument instruction, screen-printing, singing, dance, writing workshops and physical art.

“It was a natural step for us to work with A.M.P.” says Charles Fowler, RCLA’s vice principal, describing the school’s goals in bringing up community-minded and creatively empowered students. “We want to open up a space for kids to actually be free and use music as an outlet.”

In 2014 Fowler was voted Teacher of the Year—first by his peers, then by his school district, and finally by the San Jose Chamber of Commerce. He attributes his survival to finding music as a youth.

“I used to go to punk and hardcore shows in high school,” he says. “Coming up from a family where both my parents were drug addicts, raised by my grandmother, I wasn’t supposed to make it. Music saved my life.”

For more information on A.M.P., or to donate or volunteer, visit thinkanddiethinking.org

Sep 3-5, 10am-4pm
Roberto Cruz Leadership Academy

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